Paula Abdul and Cowell idolise each other

Paula Abdul has admitted she and Simon Cowell, who torments her on the set of American Idol, are friends in real life.

The 44-year-old told TV Guide magazine that she and her fellow judge actually have a good friendship, despite the fact they taunt each other so much on the talent show.

“Simon and I actually get along great,” she says in the magazine. “We have cultivated a fun relationship. He’s actually become a really good friend.”

Were they at first attracted to one another, as Simon has suggested? “Oh, puh-leez! He makes this stuff up,” says Paula. “He said, ‘Paula, people want us to hook up so bad.’ I said, ‘That’s disgusting.’ He goes, ‘Paula, I know you want me,’ and I go, ‘Like a cold sore.’

“We have fun playing up the chemistry, but there’s also times when I would cross to the other side of the street so I wouldn’t have to look at him.”

In her five years on the Fox talent show, Paula has become a pop-culture punchline for her sometimes odd behaviour. Simon, ever the troublemaker, is to blame, she says.

“He’s caused me a lot of problems,” she says.

She adds: “In the middle of me trying to figure out how I’m going to say something that gives someone dignity walking off that stage, I’ve got the antagonistic brother goofing on me, trying to throw me off.”